First came the remarkably detailed voluntary individual workout protocol. Then came COVID-19 testing.
As Major League Soccer eyes a return to play in the near future, Sporting Kansas City has been at the forefront of implementing workout programs and testing amidst the unprecedented coronavirus pandemic.
Cody Tapp and Alex Gold of 610 Sports Radio were among many to laud Manager Peter Vermes' leading efforts in the league's push to continue a season that has been suspended since March 12.
Vermes joined the Cody & Gold show today, explaining that in order for MLS to take the next step toward small group and full team training, COVID-19 testing must become a regular staple.
"As you continue to progress and go from individual workouts to small group trainings and all of the sudden playing 5-v-5 against each other, it makes sense to have a testing protocol in place. What that is? I'll be honest with you guys: I don't think anyone knows unless you're testing someone every single day. Is that practical? Can you do that? And I think that's where the difficulty starts to come in.
"I would say that we've been pretty darn good in what we've done thus far, and we're trying to build out our own testing protocol right now before we even hear from the league on what they think it should be or anyone else. It's not because we're trying to beat them to the punch, it's just because we're not going to sit around waiting. We're going to try to be proactive and see if we can come up with something that works. The great thing is that our guys have had a great mentality towards it and they've been very open towards it."
With multiple reports in recent days detailing the MLS plan to stage a closed-door tournament involving all 26 clubs this summer in Orlando, Florida, Vermes provide further context from a sporting director's perspective.
"We all want to get back on the field as soon as possible, and obviously we want to do it in a safe manner," he said. "The Orlando idea seems pretty good. Obviously there's a lot of logistical things that need to be worked out before you would go there, but that idea is very interesting. I'm looking for solutions, right? We could all sit around and criticize a bunch of things, and there would be a lot of logistical hurdles if all teams were to go to Orlando. But I do think we'd come up with a lot of solutions to the hurdles that are out there.
"I would continue to try to make that happen, because the faster that we start to play games, it allows us to get as many (matches) in to complete our seasons. If we're in a location like that, it also starts to give confidence to the nation itself. If you're starting to see that people can accomplish (the return to sports) in a safe way, then it could open up cities and stadiums."